HomeVisionStatement Of FaithArticlesPhoto GalleryEditor's NoteLinksContact

Chapter 1

Issachar’s Mother

Genesis 28 ~ 31

This story began with Jacob fleeing Esau. Jacob had stolen the blessing of the firstborn that his father had reserved for his elder brother, Esau. His mother, Rebekah, was worried that Esau might eventually cause him harm. Thus, Jacob’s father, Isaac, sent him away to stay with his uncle Laban, his mother’s brother.

Isaac gave Jacob this specific instruction: "Do not marry any of these Canaanite women. Instead, go at once to Padan Aram, to the house of your grandfather Bethuel, and marry one of your uncle’s daughters. May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants become a great assembly of peoples! May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings that He had promised to Abraham. May you own this land where we now are foreigners, for God had given it to Abraham."

Jacob was told to marry one wife. But Laban had two daughters. Leah was first and Rachel was second. Leah had dull eyes, but Rachel was beautiful in every way, with a lovely face and shapely figure.

The ravishing beauty of Rachel had captured the heart of Jacob. He was deeply in love with her. He told her father, "I’ll work for you seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife."

"Agreed!" Laban replied. "It is better to give her to you than to someone else outside the family." So Jacob spent the next seven years working to pay for the bride price of his lovely Rachel. His love for her was so strong that those seven years seemed to him but a few days.

Finally, the time arrived for him to marry her. "I have fulfilled my term," Jacob said to Laban. "Now give me Rachel so that we can be married."

Laban invited everyone living there to the wedding feast. When it was dark that night, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. Laban also gave Leah a maid, Zilpah. The man, who had deceived his brother and father, was now deceived by his uncle. He knew not who his wife was.

The next morning, Jacob awoke and realised the mistake. It was Leah! Jacob went to confront Laban, "Why do you trick me? I have worked seven years specifically for Rachel."

"It’s not customary for us to marry off a younger daughter before the elder one," Laban replied. "Please wait until the bridal week of celebration is over. I will give you Rachel if you promise to work for me another seven years."

Jacob had no choice. He agreed to work for Laban seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel. Laban also gave Rachel a maid, Bilhah. Jacob finally married his love, Rachel.

The two sisters were married to the same man, not on the same day but a week apart. And Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. He stayed on and worked for Laban seven additional years.

Because Leah was unloved, the Lord gave her children, while Rachel remained childless. Hereby we could see the favour of the LORD upon Leah. She had inner beauty that Jacob did not take notice and had disregarded. Her godliness could be seen in the naming of her children. Rachel’s beauty might be just skin deep. Her distressing relationship with the LORD could also be seen in the naming of her sons.

Leah became pregnant. The LORD blessed her with a son. His name was Reuben, for she said, "The LORD has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me." How she longed for her husband’s love!

The Lord blessed Leah again. She soon became pregnant. Her second son was Simeon, for she said, "The LORD heard that I was unloved and has given me another son." How prayerful and thankful she was!

The Lord blessed Leah again. She soon became pregnant and had a third son. She named him Levi, for she said, "Surely now my husband will show affection for me, since I have given him three sons!" How she longed for the affection of her husband!

But Jacob still loved Rachel more than Leah. The Lord blessed Leah once again. She became pregnant and had a fourth son. His name was Judah, for she said, "Now I will praise the LORD!" How she loved the LORD!

Meanwhile Rachel was fuming in anger. She had no children. This drove her to jealousy against her sister. She did not turn to God in prayer. Instead she put the pressure on her husband, "Give me children, or I’ll die!"

Jacob was furious at her wailing. "Am I God?" he asked her. "He is the Only One Who is able to give you children!" But Rachel did not heed to his advice to ask and seek God. She committed the same mistake as Jacob’s grandmother, Sarah. Sarah gave up waiting on the Lord for a son. She gave her Egyptian maid, Hagar, to Abraham to bear him a son. Unto them was born Ishmael.

Using this same ancient strategy, Rachel suggested to Jacob, "Sleep with my maid, Bilhah. She will bear children for me." Jacob bought the idea. Bilhah became his wife, and he slept with her. Bilhah became pregnant and had a son. Rachel named him Dan, for she said, "God has vindicated me! He has heard my request and given me a son."

Bilhah became pregnant again and bore Jacob a second son. Rachel named him Naphtali, for she said, "I have had an intense struggle with my sister, and I am winning!"

Rachel had this kiasu spirit that was afraid of losing. She would fight until she won. She did not want to be a loser. Whatever it took to win, she was willing to buy the price. She must win. She must be first. And she must be number one.

At this time, Leah realized that she was not getting pregnant anymore. She employed the same method as Rachel. She gave her maid, Zilpah, to Jacob to be his wife. Now Jacob had four wives instead of one, which his father, Isaac, had originally instructed him to marry.

Ziplah bore Jacob his seventh son. Leah named him Gad, for she said, "How fortunate I am!" Then Zilpah had another son. Leah named him Asher, for she said, "What joy is mine! The other women will consider me happy indeed!"

Leah was full of thanksgiving and praise unto her Maker. She was rejoicing in all the blessings that the Lord had bestowed upon her. She considered herself blessed among the women.

The LORD remembered Leah and opened her womb again. He gave her a fifth son. His name was Issachar, for she said, "God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband." Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. She named him Zebulun, for she said, "God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons." After this, she bore Jacob a daughter named Dinah.

Rachel was in a serious plight when she saw the fruitfulness of Leah. And she finally turned to God, and the LORD listened to her prayers. He opened her womb, and she conceived and bore a son. She said, "God has taken away my shame." She named him Joseph, for she said, "May the LORD give me yet another son."

Soon after Joseph was born to Rachel, Jacob rose and set his sons and his wives on camels to flee from his father-in-law. And he carried away all his livestock and all his possessions, which he had gained to go back to his father, Isaac, in the land of Canaan. But Rachel stole the household idols that belonged to her father, Laban. She committed theft and idolatry.

Three days later Laban found out that Jacob had gone. So he took some of his relatives along and chased after Jacob. It took him seven days before catching up with Jacob in the hill country of Gilead. But God appeared to Laban in a dream that night and warned, "Don’t say a word to Jacob. Don’t make a threat or a promise."

Jacob had set up camp in the hill country of Gilead. Laban and his relatives came and set up camp in another part of the hill country. Laban went to Jacob and said, "Look what you’ve done! You’ve tricked me and run off with my daughters like a kidnapper. Why did you sneak away without telling me? I would have given you a farewell party with singing and with music on tambourines and harps. You didn’t even give me a chance to kiss my own grandchildren and daughters goodbye. That was really foolish. I could easily hurt you. But the God your father worshipped has warned me not to make any threats or promises. I can understand why you were eager to return to your father, but why did you have to steal my idols?"

Jacob answered, "I left secretly because I was afraid that you would not let me and my family go. About your idols, please search us. Anyone found guilty of stealing them would be killed! Let your relatives be witnesses." Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen the household idols.

Laban searched the tents of Jacob, Leah and the two servant women. He could not find the idols. Then he started to search Rachel’s tent. She had hidden the idols in a cushion. She was sitting on it while Laban was searching for the idols. Rachel said, "Father, please don’t be angry with me for not getting up. I am having my period." Rachel lied to her father. Laban did not recover his idols.

Rachel died young after giving birth to her second son, Benjamin. When the time came for Rachel’s second baby to be born, Jacob and his family had left Bethel and were still a long way from Ephrath. Rachel was having a rough time during the delivery of the child. The woman who was helping her said, "Don’t worry! It’s a boy." Rachel was at the point of death. Just before dying, she wanted to name him Benoni, which means "Son of my Sorrow." But Jacob called him Benjamin meaning "Son at my Right Side" (the place of power). Rachel was truly a woman of sorrows till her death.

Rachel was buried beside the road to Ephrath, which was also later called Bethlehem. Jacob set up a tombstone over her grave, and it is still there today.

Leah lived much longer. Before Jacob’s death, he gave his sons this instruction, "I will die soon. And I want you to bury me in Machpelah Cave. Abraham bought this cave as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite, and it is near the town of Mamre in Canaan. Abraham and Sarah are buried there, and so are Isaac and Rebekah. I buried Leah there too. Both the cave and the land that goes with it were bought from the Hittites." Jacob remembered Leah on his deathbed. He was buried with his wife, Leah.

I believe that as the years went by, Jacob had come to appreciate the goodness and godliness of Leah. He had begun to love her slowly but surely. She was loved finally! She was truly a blessed woman. From her third son, Levi, we have the priesthood. From her fourth son, Judah, we have King David and Jesus our Messiah! From her fifth son, Issachar, we could understand the times and seasons of God. Below is a table of the wives and sons of Jacob:

Jacob’s

Wives

Sons

Leah

Rachel

Bilhah

Zilpah

1

Reuben

-

-

-

2

Simeon

-

-

-

3

Levi

-

-

-

4

Judah

-

-

-

5

-

-

Dan

-

6

-

-

Naphtali

-

7

-

-

-

Gad

8

-

-

-

Asher

9

Issachar

-

-

-

10

Zebulun

-

-

-

11

-

Joseph

-

-

12

-

Benjamin

-

-

About Rachel, I know the Lord did not forget her. His only begotten Son was born in Bethlehem, the city where she was buried. Her son, Joseph, saved his whole family from famine. I hereby would like to share this prayerful hymn with you:

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer! (Remember Leah)

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer. (Remember Rachel)


Go To Chapter

Prelude 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Epilogue